How many mature/older workers do you know who want to go back to work? Maybe you are one of them? Perhaps you know someone who is.
Mature workers seem to fall into three categories:
The folks that need to earn money
People who need to earn money are often older baby boomers. They expect to work at least part-time in retirement, according to information, from the U.S. Department on Aging (AOA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). They may have constrained resources due to limited savings or have perhaps seen their retirement funds plummet in value in the stock market collapse of the past few years. Many people past the typical retirement age of 65 are still in or returning to the workforce. The increase of workers projected by the AOA past 75 years of age is 4.3% and the majority of these are women.
Those who are bored in retirement
Those who are bored may be more on the middle class curve economically, but any older worker may give boredom as a reason to work now, especially if their work-life years have been spent in jobs that were personally meaningful. This may be the best of times for a mature person to be the most productive and passionate about work. Work, at this time of life, can also be spiritually fulfilling and self-chosen. This time, work may not be just for economic gain.
Those who want to be a part of things
Lastly, are those mature/older workers who still want to be part of the work world, hobnobbing with co-workers and remaining productive and active. These people may be from any socioeconomic category. Perhaps these are the most content of all types of mature workers. For example, if someone who wants to work finds tutoring children fun and productive, then this is work in the best sense of the word, even if unpaid. Too many people have spent their lives viewing "work" as a four-letter word. Now they want to be productive, earn money, and be passionate about what they spend their time on. And isn't that what any worker wants?
Helping the Mature/Older Worker
While these are just some aspects of the mature/older worker, what advice do professionals who may provide career counseling or coaching to these folks need? What is it about a mature worker that may be different than any other client? Perhaps one unique issue that affects someone coming back into the work force at an older age is self-esteem. Self-esteem can take a beating for a more mature worker if they pay attention to negative messages about aging that often pervade a youth-obsessed culture.
Mature workers re-entering the workforce or continuing on in a new field may need more positive reinforcement than others, at least initially. They may not feel confident in learning new skills or marketing their transferable skills. Here's where a good career counselor/coach can be key to assisting these clients. Reminding these folks of their previous successes, helping them to focus on their strengths, and keeping the attention on their own personal goals for working (supplementing income, decreasing boredom, and/or staying involved) may all benefit mature/older workers. After all, most workers want good pay for a job well done, recognition and relief from boredom, and to be productive.
Marilyn J. Tellez, M.A.
Serving the needs of the over 50 job seeker.